Author Archives for Ann Laws

About Ann Laws

I really did arrive on the last banana boat! My teenage son loves telling people this. Having been born in Ghana in 1960, we used to travel from Africa to Liverpool, on bi-annual leave, aboard one of the Elder Dempster Line's 'banana boats' which ferried fresh produce and supplies between West Africa and the UK. Our days in Africa were charmed and this adventurous period of my young life was probably the catalyst to my inherent wanderlust and inability, until recently, to settle in one place. Returning to school and life in England during my early teenage years was an unwelcome shock and one that I and my mother both rebelled against in different ways. For my part, it was the confinement of regular school, tedious routine and being made to wear shoes. For my mother it was the general drabness of life which led her to implode and withdraw socially from the world despite having two children to look after. At the time, my father was working in Libya during a difficult political period and struggled to cope with my mother's mental desertion which quickly developed into social isolation and a serious food phobia. During my later adolescence and into my mid twenties, I felt something important was missing in my life. That 'something' was food. Not just meagre bland food to sustain life - the sort I'd been brought up on but food to prepare, savour, share and enjoy. It wasn't really until I left university and was working for a publishing house in London that I identified this void in my life. The joy of learning to cook so that I could entertain friends brought me some stability, creativity and pleasure. To prepare food for family and friends is an act of love. Some of my happiest times have been spent around a table in the company of my precious family and good friends, chatting and putting the world to rights. The dining table is a great place to talk, resolve problems, encourage, plan and debate. I have been fortunate to have lived in Asia and to have travelled extensively for both work and pleasure. This has enabled me, through my love of food and cooking, to enjoy and better understand the nuances of other cultures. It may be naive, but in today's world of unrest and turmoil, perhaps a few of our illustrious leaders could improve their domestic and international relationships, if they were to share a meal and take time to listen, discuss and understand. Sharing food at a table allows time to talk and through communication, problems are shared and often solved. I missed this stability during my teenage years but it's better discovered late than never. Having had an assortment of occupations in publishing, print and real estate, a 'chambers d'hôte' and guest restaurant in France, a restaurant in Portugal; I am now working at a golf resort and living with my family in southern Portugal while finding time to blog and write my second novel.

Share the joy!

For some time now, I have been interested in the role that preparing and sharing food has played over the centuries in uniting people by providing opportunities for effective communication. We can learn a lot about other countries and their cultures through food – their methods and rituals for preparing and sharing meals. I believe that a harmonious family life often starts at the table. Taking time to prepare a meal can be an act of love or solicitude. Sharing a meal with family, friends or colleagues provides time to talk about the events of the day, school, work, worries, achievements and our relationship with others. If we learn to communicate, from an early age at home, we will communicate better at work, at school and in the wider world – if there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation and if there is order in the nation, there is a greater chance of peace in the world. Perhaps, some might say that I am being too simplistic or optimistic; but I reckon it’s not a bad ethos to have, or place to start, in creating a better world in which to live and bring up our children!

With this in mind, during December 2014, I was privileged to spend a few hours in the company of Aljezur International School’s Portuguese housekeeper, Dona Ilda – a vivacious lady with a wealth of stories and anecdotes to tell about Portugal’s old traditions. I asked her to talk to me about Portuguese cuisine in general and, as we were approaching the festive season, the traditional foods served at Christmas time as I wanted to write an article for my blog site. To my delight, she went a step further and suggested that, together, we prepare a typical meal to be shared with the children and staff of the school. What a treat I had in store! We set a date and then we cooked and we talked and I was enchanted by her tales of how the preparation and sharing of food was so integral to the harmony of community life, especially in poor rural regions, not only at Christmas but throughout the year.

Portuguese food is, in general, simple but flavoursome. The yields of the sea and land are plentiful and, therefore, no one has ever had to starve. Dona Ilda told us that, at the end of a hard day’s toil on the land, the workers and their families would join together (sometimes as many as fifty or sixty people), each contributing towards the meal that would be cooked communally over an open fire in large cauldron-like pots. These meals served as soups or stews, would contain a variety of regional and seasonal vegetables, chicken, pork, goat, lamb or rabbit. Fairly copious quantities of locally made wine would also accompany the meal. It was believed to invigorate the body, ward off colds, relax the mind and warm the soul! In days of very old, even the children were sent to school with a tipple of warmed red wine and a chunk of bread to help them on their journey. Christmas called for some dishes a little more special and menus, such as the one we prepared and feasted upon, would often comprise of cod fish and potato cakes, a traditional soup containing cod, a mixed meat and vegetable stew, shellfish and game, rice with black pork chorizo followed by a dessert of creamed rice made with lots of sugar, eggs and vanilla.

If we are fortunate enough to experience the traditions of another country and partake of their hostility, then we are genuinely blessed. Sharing and learning to share is so important to social development. Academic studies have shown that sharing food nurtures altruism within our society; opening the door to a more cohesive and tolerant community. Sharing food makes people think about fairness. For example – Do I get as much as everyone else at the table? Who is being served first? Sometimes, I can’t take as much as I would like to!  Perhaps, we should share meals more often, as families and communities did in days of old. Our burgeoning dependance on communication through mobile phones and social media is potentially destructive to harmonious integration within society. Most of us ‘share’ daily through social media; perhaps we could learn to communicate more effectively and share more across the table. Food for thought!

I left the school ‘family’ and Dona Ilda’s infectiously bubbly company with a warm feeling and high spirits. Aljezur International School is a truly international union of children and teachers from different countries and cultures around the world. The school instills the values of tolerance and respect which underpin harmony and an environment conducive to learning. Mobile phones are banned during the school day and the lunch break is a time for social ‘sharing’. Hallelujah! Share this joy!!

Creamy Potato & Onion Bake with a Butter Crumble Crust

This is such an easy and deliciously scrumptious potato dish to make. It’s excellent served with a steak, sausages or any grilled/pan-fried meats. It can be prepared well in advance and reheated so is perfect for dinner parties.

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Layers of sliced potatoes and onion rings.

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Pour over the cream and top with cheese – I recommend ‘raclette’ cheese. Sea salt and ground pepper to garnish!

I highly recommend using a ‘raclette’ type cheese because, when heated, it melts and combines with the cream to make a thick, velvety and luscious sauce. I like to top my dish with a buttery and salty biscuit crumble – the combination of textures and flavours is just sensational. Give it a go – it’s so easy to make!

Creamy Potato & Onion Bake with Crumble Crust

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium/large potatoes ( I allow one potato per person), sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced into rings
  • 400ml pouring cream
  • 5 or 6 slices of ‘raclette’ cheese or similar
  • Ground sea salt and black pepper
  • 75/100g of soft butter
  • Just over half a pack of ‘tuc’ biscuits or similar

Directions:

  1. Wash and slice the potatoes, skins on.
  2. Peel and thinly slice the onion
  3. Layer the potatoes and onions alternatively in a deep oven proof dish
  4. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper each time and top up with cream.
  5. Add the slices of ‘raclette’ cheese and top with ground salt/pepper.
  6. Cover the dish with foil and bake in an oven (180/190 degrees or 350 degrees fahrenheit) for about an hour, or until the potatoes have softened.
  7. While the potatoes are in the oven, place the ‘tuc’ biscuits into a plastic food bag and crush to make crumbs.
  8. Place the biscuit crumbs in a bowl and combine with the soften butter.
  9. When the potato bake is cooked, remove the foil and sprinkle over the crumble mixture.
  10. Replace the potato with crumble top back in the oven for 10 mins or until browned and bubbling.

Cottage Crumble

Cottage Pie must be high on the list of dishes most synonymous  with British cuisine – up there with fish and chips, roast beef, hot pots and pies. It is also a dish that you might think of serving on a cold winter’s night, when deeply satisfying comfort food is the order of the day.

To add a little more paz-zaz to what can sometimes be a bland dish, I like to ‘jazz’ my recipe up with a few extra ingredients, a ‘glug’ of sherry and a cheesy crumble top. With the addition of various cottage-garden vegetables and a potato and butternut squash mash, it’s packed with natural goodness and positively zings with flavour!

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Minced beef and pork with sliced carrots, leeks and cabbage cooked with a ‘glug’ of sherry!

 

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Crumble the salty biscuits (Tuc or Ritz)!

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Mix the crumbled biscuits with softened butter. Grate the Cheddar cheese and combine together.

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Mash the potato and butternut squash. Spoon on top of the meat mixture and add the biscuit and cheese crumble. Sprinkle with dried oregano. Bake and serve!

 

 

Cottage Crumble

Prep Time: 30 Mins Cooking Time: 1 Hour Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Mins

Ingredients:

  • 800g of potatoes for mashing
  • 300g of butternut squash, cubed for mashing
  • a generous knob of butter for the mash
  • full fat milk for the mash
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 to 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 600 to 800g of minced meat (as you wish – pork or beef or a mix)
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • half a small cabbage, shredded
  • 2 large leeks, sliced
  • 1 cup of medium or sweet sherry
  • 380/390g tomato puree (passata) 
  • 60/70g of ‘Tuc’ or ‘Ritz’ biscuits
  • Grated Cheddar cheese or similar
  • 50/60g Butter, softened to mix with the crumbed biscuits
  • Dried Oregano, to sprinkle on top

Directions:

  1. MAKES 4 GENEROUS PORTIONS
  2. Peel the potatoes and butternut squash and cut into chunks. Place in a pan of salted boiling water.
  3. When the potatoes/butternut squash are soft, mash with butter and milk, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. In a large pan, add the olive oil, the carrots, leeks and cabbage. Salt and pepper.
  5. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the minced meat and combine together.
  6. Add the sherry and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree and simmer to cook through.
  7. Place the meat mixture in and oven dish and top with the mashed potatoes/butternut squash.
  8. Sprinkle over the cheese crumble topping and finish with a shake of dried oregano.
  9. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 180 degrees centigrade (350 degrees fahrenheit)

Tiger Prawn Tagliatelle

I love prawns! Prawns, grilled, sauté, barbecued, sweet and sour prawns, prawn curry, prawn just about anything! The only thing I don’t like about prawns, is peeling them! It’s time consuming and yucky, mucky! But ……. every cloud has a silver lining and these prawns were certainly worth the effort. Creating a meal with with fresh raw prawns is so much better than buying cooked peeled prawns which are often tasteless and watery.

 

Prawn Tagliatelle

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo of shell on raw prawns of a good size (serves 4 people)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small leeks, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 1 sweet Italian pepper, deseeded and cut into thin rounds
  • Salt & pepper
  • Sea salt and ground pepper
  • 1 cup of Portuguese Moscatel wine or a semi sweet white wine
  • 200ml of cream
  • Fresh tagliatelle
  • Parsley to garnish

Directions:

  1. Peel and remove the vein that runs along the upper length of the prawn. Set aside.
  2. In a frying pan, add the olive oil and pan-fry the garlic, leek, celery and red pepper to soften. Season with salt & pepper.
  3. Add the Moscatel or semi-sweet wine and continue to cook until the liquid reduces slightly.
  4. In the meantime, boil a pan of water and cook the tagliatelle.
  5. Add the cream to the mixture in the frying pan and combine thoroughly.
  6. Add the cooked prawns to the sauce and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  7. Drain the tagliatelle and serve into bowls. Top with the prawn sauce.
  8. Grind the sea salt and black pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Sweet ‘Potato’ Sensation!

Living close to Aljezur in Portugal’s Algarve, where the townsfolk have just celebrated the annual “Festival da Batata-Doce”, I felt the need to make my own contribution. The sweet potatoes grown in the region surrounding Aljezur are of such high quality that they have been officially recognised as a product with protected designation of origin. A bit like a Bordeaux fine wine or Cheddar cheese! Don’t be fooled into thinking that all sweet potatoes are the same! The sweet potatoes of the Aljezur region owe their particularly fine attributes to the sand layers in the soil together with underlying clay and the local climatic conditions. The festival celebrates the importance of the ‘batata-doce’ to the region with a variety of ‘gourmet’ recipes being produced, using this rather ugly looking tuber with a brown and purple skin, which can be baked, boiled or grilled and served as a sweet or savoury dish.

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Sweet potato (batata-doce) baked in it’s skin. Delicious with a knob of salty butter!

My recipe is based on using 70% sweet potatoes with 30% of a waxy white potato. Scientific research shows that sweet potatoes have great health benefits. The orange flesh is a good source of beta-carotene which has been shown to raise blood levels of vitamin A. They are also a good source of vitamin B6 which is linked to the prevention of heart attacks; and vitamin C, important in warding off cold and flu viruses. I have also read that it can produce collagen which helps to maintain youthful looking skin! I need all the help I can get, therefore, this is definitely a vegetable that I will be eating a lot more of!

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Sweet potatoes are delicious baked simply in their skins; but I have decided to create something a little different by combining some other flavours and textures in with the combination of potatoes. Lots of garlic gives it a good pungent aroma, finely chopped red peppers for colour and added sweetness, Spring onions for a touch of sharpness and bacon pieces for their salty and smokey contribution. The light crumble top gives texture and a salty bite! The combination, is simply sensational!

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Pan fry in olive oil, the garlic, torchino/smoked bacon, sweet red pepper and Spring onions. Season well.

Peel the sweet and waxy white potatoes (just about a kilo in total) and boil them in a pan of salted water until soft enough to mash with milk and butter. In the meantime, pan-fry, in olive oil, the sliced garlic (3 or 4 cloves),  sliced red peppers (1 pepper – deseeded), bacon pieces (100g) and 3 sliced Spring onions. When softened set aside until the potatoes are mashed and ready. Mix the pan-fried vegetables into the potato mash and place in an oven dish. Using a little over a half packet of ‘tuc’ biscuits, place these in a food bag and crush into crumb form. Mix with approximately 100g of butter to produce a ‘crumble’. Sprinkle the crumble over the potato mixture and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees centigrade for 20/25 minutes. To accompany, I made some simple meatballs with a mixture of beef and pork and seasoned them with oregano, salt and pepper. Bom Apetite!

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Bom Apetite!!

Pie Time! Chicken & Vegetables cooked with Cider & Cream

There is nothing more warming and satisfying, on a winter’s day, than a homemade pie filled with freshly prepared ingredients. I enjoy making pies and pastry and find it quite therapeutic. I like to experiment with different fillings, giving vent to my creative side and also like to have fun with pastry decorations. One of the pies, pictured here, I made for a friend’s anniversary and delivered it with a candle which is a great gift for anyone preferring savoury to sweet. In preparation for an intensive pie-making week, in aid of the church Christmas Bazaar next Saturday, I will be making several varieties, such as – salmon and leek – beef, Port and cranberry and turkey, ham and chestnut. Recipes to be posted as I create them!

Before I get to the recipe for this post, just a word or two about shortcrust pastry and the frustrations that I have encountered with it recently. I came to pastry and pie making relatively late in life as, alas, I did not learn any culinary skills at the knee of my mother or grandmother. What I do remember of my grandmother’s food (on visits back from Africa), is unquestionably grim – spam fritters with baked beans and to drink, dandelion and burdock. My mother, who clearly inherited this disability and never having the need or desire to cook herself, fed us on factory made concoctions that were often inedible, tasteless and I dread to think how many ‘e’ numbers we must have ingested. The effects of passive smoke are well known. There should be equal concern for children regarding passive food!! Like many things that are denied, they become more alluring with the advent of freedom and so, my brother and I learnt to cook creatively. Firstly, out of necessity and secondly, because we both developed a ‘taste’ for proper food having experienced such deprivation during our childhood years. Sympathy not required – I’ve made up for it since!

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Pastry made and pie filled. A good coating of egg wash and into the oven for 25 minutes at 190 degrees centigrade.

All that said, back to the subject of pastry. I was taught to make pastry, of various kinds, by a very good friend and pastry chef (you know who you are), who was generous enough to share some of her knowledge with me. To date, I have followed her recipe precisely and it has given excellent results allowing me to produce hundreds of pies. Just recently, however, I have had a few problems with the pastry being too ‘crumbly’ to work with. It has caused me huge consternation and frustration as I get very irritated when things don’t work as I want them to, when I believe there is no reason for them not to. Does that make sense? Anyway, having resorted to internet sources for a technical reason, I have discovered just how critical temperature and changing the brand of butter or flour can be, etc, etc. So, the long and short of all this is, that you have to find what works for you by sometimes tweaking the ingredients and measures. In my case, the flour and butter combination that I am currently using, needed a little more water than I had previously added. That small discovery has ensured that the rolling pin has no secondary use other than to roll out the dough!

Shortcrust pastry: 9oz / 270g plain flour; 5oz / 140g butter; 1 egg yolk, 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. I use a food processor because it’s quicker but you can ‘crumble’ the flour and butter by hand. Cut the cold butter into cubes and put this and the flour into the bowl of the food processor. Whizz until the ingredients combine to a crumbly texture. Add the yolk of an egg and a tablespoon of cold water. The mixture should come together in a clump. If this fails to happen, add a little more water until you have a workable dough that is not too dry and not to wet. I’m sorry that I can’t really explain it better than this – as I have experienced, it’s a learning process that just requires patience and practice. So …… with the dough rolled out to about a thickness of 3mm, line a pie dish of approximately 18cm diameter. Egg wash the edges of the pastry and fill the pie with the filling. Secure the pastry lid by crimping with the side of your thumb. Trim the pastry and egg wash the surface. Have fun with the decoration!

My recipe is based on filling a deep pie (5cm) to feed four or five hungry people. It’s a pie filled with chunks of meat and wholesome vegetables on which to feast. I don’t promote meagre helpings. I’m compensating for my childhood!!

Pie filling – Chicken & Vegetables in Cider & Cream

Ingredients:

  • 3 large chicken breasts, cubed (Pie for 4 people)
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 300ml cider
  • 200ml double cream

Directions:

  1. In a heavy based pan, add the olive oil.
  2. Add the leeks and carrots.
  3. Season well. I will leave the quantity up to you, as I tend to over salt!!
  4. Add the cider and chicken stock. Cook for 5 minutes to reduce the liquid.
  5. Add the chicken and cook gently for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the cream and combine together well.
  7. If the sauce has too much liquid, mix a little corn flour with cold water and add to the mixture to thicken.
  8. Allow to cool before filling the pie base.

Stuffed Squid with Garlic & Roasted Red Peppers

This is amazingly easy, but just a little ‘fiddley’, to prepare! The ‘fiddley’ part is the stuffing of the squid, but I have concocted a method to hold the end of the squid tube open; and that is by using the large open ring of a piping nozzle.

I love this meal at lunch time (ten squid tubes like the ones pictured here are perfect for two) – it’s light (so long as one is not tempted to mop up all the delicious juices with wedges of crusty bread), healthy and will unquestionably tantalise your taste buds. The roasted red pepper zings with colour and sweetness; the squid is tender and succulent and the stuffing can vary, depending on the ingredients you fancy. I find being good difficult and often can’t resist the temptation of dunking chunks of freshly baked bread into the scrumptious oily, peppery, salty, garlicky sauce. It’s utterly Mediterranean and could only improve, if polished off with a chilled glass of white or rose wine!!

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Pre-cooking. The squid cleaned, de-veined and stuffed.

I bought fresh squid with the tentacles attached, which for this recipe, I removed. It is important also to remove the translucent spine – this is quite easy and just needs a firm tug. For the stuffing, I simply mixed couscous (just follow the instructions on the packet) with finely chopped garlic, red peppers and sultanas. Once these ingredients were combined with the couscous, I mixed in a few drops of olive oil, a good pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. I filled the squid (this is a little time consuming and can be ‘fiddley’) by using the nozzle of a piping bag without any attachments. Once filled, a wooden tooth-pick was used to secure the squid tubes. I chopped a red pepper into pieces and placed them in an oven dish with the prepared squid and sprinkled them with some more finely chopped garlic. Finally, I drizzled over a good quality olive oil (making sure that everything was well coated), then added a generous pinch of sea salt and a good twist or two of ground pepper. Covered with tin foil and baked in a preheated oven – 180 degrees centigrade for 20 minutes, before removing the foil and baking for a further 5 to 10 minutes to brown.

Red Thai Turkey Curry ………… to Spice Up the Festive Season!

We are fortunate living here in Portugal that delicious ‘plumptious’ turkeys are readily available all year round and at very affordable prices. Before I go further – apologies to all English language purists for the neologism- I just think my word aptly evokes a scrumptiously, succulent and plump bird! And, as the festive season approaches, that is exactly what we want at Christmas time, a ‘plumptious’ bird with which to celebrate!! With the traditional Christmas day meal lovingly and painstakingly prepared, cooked to perfection and devoured in minutes, we are often left with sufficient meat for at least another meal or a mound of dull, dry turkey sandwiches. But ….. hold your horses (or turkeys, in this case), I have a spicy proposition to put to you! Try my Red Thai Turkey Curry – it’s simply delicious and so amazingly easy to make. As it cooks, the aromas are sensational and the spice combination will add an exotic dimension to your holiday menus. I have used a red Thai paste for this recipe because my family like their curries hot! If your preference is for something milder, reduce the amount of red paste or try a yellow Thai paste. A ‘dollop’ of plain yogurt or sour cream, on the side, is also a good companion.

Strip your festive bird of meat or, if you can’t wait for the Christmas day remains, buy a turkey leg or breast and cook it slowly, in a litre of chicken stock which will keep it succulently moist. Cover the roasting pan with foil and place in the oven at 170 degrees centigrade for 90/100 minutes. Cooked through thoroughly so as to avoid the ‘turkey’s revenge! Strip the meat from the bone, or cube the breast, and set aside. By using a shop bought paste, it makes this dish so simple and quick to prepare – and having slaved over a hot oven for hours on Christmas morning – why not? Just choose a good quality brand like Blue Elephant!

Red Thai Turkey Curry

Prep Time: 20 Mins Cooking Time: 40 Mins Total Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Turkey meat (approx. 200g per person)
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 500g sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 sweet red pepper, sliced
  • 1 sweet yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 100g small cherry tomatoes
  • 70g Thai red curry paste
  • 2 x 400ml tins full fat coconut milk
  • Chopped fresh coriander to garnish
  • Chopped Spring onions to garnish (optional)
  • A generous handful of Cashew nuts

Directions:

  1. In a large frying pan or wok, add and heat the olive oil.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and season.
  3. Gently fry the onion and garlic for 2/3 minutes, then add the curry paste. Combine with the oil.
  4. Add all the vegetables, coating them with the oily paste.
  5. Add the coconut milk and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, until all vegetables are cooked.
  6. Add the turkey meat and cook for a further 10 minutes to heat through.
  7. Serve with rice and garnish with the coriander, chopped Spring onions and Cashew nuts.

Normandy Chicken

This recipe combines some of the most iconic ingredients that are synonymous with Normandy in Northern France, where we lived for seven years. It is in my top ten meals because it is rich, creamy, gently aromatic and simply satiates the most ravenous of appetites. Moreover, it is incredibly easy and quite quick to prepare. It is equally delicious using pork, instead of chicken. My years in Normandy enhanced my culinary passions – we lived in a land of gastronomic plenty – with local markets providing the freshest fish, meat and vegetables, more often than not, grown in the fields and gardens that surrounded us. When I think of Normandy (or ‘Gourmandie’ as it is also known), I think of dairy produce – thick farm cream and full fat milk from the indigenous ‘Normande’ cow, a host of the most delicious cheeses, free range poultry, wild game, fresh sea caught fish, hearty root vegetables, wild mushrooms, cider and Calvados (apple brandy). From this bounteous store, an amaranthine variety of dishes are created.

My Normandy Chicken is ‘lush’ (my son will be impressed that I have quoted him) and the aromas of the cider and garlic are tantalising. Here, I have used field mushrooms but wild mixed mushrooms would make it more special for a dinner party. Served with creamy mashed potatoes, it’s just fabulous as the potato soaks up the extra sauce. C’est gastronomique! Tout simplement delicieux!!

Normandy Chicken

Prep Time: 30 Mins Cooking Time: 25 Mins Total Time: 55 Mins

Ingredients:

  • 6 Chicken breasts, halved lengthways (provides 4 hearty portions)
  • 3 large leeks, sliced into 1cm pieces
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped or sliced
  • 250 ml of cider (I like to use a slightly sweeter cider)
  • 300g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup of chicken stock,
  • 200ml double cream
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

  1. Cut the chicken breasts in half, lengthways 
  2. In a large heavy based pan, add the olive oil and bring up to full heat
  3. Pan fry the chicken breasts to brown the outsides. Remove and put aside
  4. Add the leeks, garlic and salt/pepper to the pan and soften, being careful not to burn the garlic
  5. Add the mushrooms and the cider. Simmer for 5 minutes
  6. Add the chicken stock and allow the juices to infuse and reduce.
  7. Add the cream and mix well.
  8. Into an oven dish, add the browned chicken breasts. Pour over the cream sauce.
  9. Place in a preheated oven at 180 degrees centigrade (350 degrees fahrenheit) for 20/25 minutes. Cover with tin foil.

Cured & Smoked Tuna

Smokey, silky, robustly rich and fishy. Cured and smoked tuna is delicious – serve as a starter or with a green salad, simply dressed! We marinated a two kilo loin with kosher salts, brown and white sugar, rum, juniper berries, mace, pepper, cloves and bay leaves. It was then placed in the fridge for 4 days before being cold smoked for 4 hours over maple and apple wood briquettes. All our curing salts and smoke house were bought from www.weschenfelder.co.uk

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Raw tuna.

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Cover in kosher curing salts, brown sugar and the spices. Marinate in the fridge.

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Four days later!

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This is the tuna after 4 hours of cold smoking.